Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Detroit won 13-10. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) signals after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) was held short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
CARSON, Calif. (AP) In a week in which one of his 2004 draft classmates suffered a season-ending elbow injury and the other was benched, Philip Rivers continues to be old reliable for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivers will make his 209th consecutive start on Sunday when the Chargers host the Houston Texans in a key early season matchup. That ties him with Eli Manning for the second-longest QB starting streak in NFL history.
Manning, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, was benched this week by the Giants for rookie Daniel Jones and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the No. 11 overall selection, will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
''I don't think you ever take it for granted, no question. I think even more-so now, you just realize that it doesn't last forever,'' Rivers said.
Longevity though is not what Rivers is focusing on this week. It is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 13-10 loss at Detroit where the Chargers' hope for a comeback ended when he threw an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
The pick capped a day that saw the Chargers have two touchdowns called back because of penalties, two missed field goals and a turnover in the red zone. The loss leaves LA at 1-1 and facing a fellow playoff participant from last season.
''I think that we've shown the ability to bounce back over the years when we've lost some tough ones,'' Rivers said. ''Usually, you never take any satisfaction in losing, obviously, but most of our losses are going to be tough ones - at least I hope.''
Rivers is very much a pocket passer who is not fleet of foot, Deshaun Watson is the opposite. The third-year quarterback is two touchdown passes away from 50 in his career and needs 35 rushing yards to become the seventh QB in NFL history with 900 yards or more in his first 26 games.
While the Chargers are coming off a close loss, the Texans survived a missed 2-point conversion to beat Jacksonville 13-12.
''Everyone is making sure that as far as I go, the offense goes and the whole team goes,'' Watson said. ''It just kind of grows on itself and the more I play, the more reps I get, the more games I start as a quarterback here, the more it grows.''
Here is what else to watch for during Sunday's game:
STILL RUNNING WELL
There hasn't been any decline in the Chargers' running game despite Melvin Gordon's holdout. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have combined to average 5.7 yards per carry.
Ekeler leads the AFC in scrimmage yards (287) and is tied for sixth in the league in offensive touches (46). However, he did fumble near the goal line in last Sunday's 13-10 loss to Detroit.
Jackson has been a nice change-of-pace back with seven of his 13 carries going for 10 yards or more.
Houston outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week this week after he had two sacks, forced two fumbles and had two quarterback hits in a win over the Jaguars last Sunday. His second strip sack was recovered by J.J. Watt and the Texans scored their only touchdown of the game four plays later. Mercilus is the only player in the NFL to force more than one fumble this season.
It was his second straight big game this season after he had a sack, an interception, five tackles, including one for a loss and a quarterback hit in Houston's opener.
''Whitney has been a very productive player for us over the years,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He's been a guy that really is just known for doing his job. He just does a good job of setting the edge in the running game and then rushing the passer.''
Running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have filled in nicely in the first two games after Lamar Miller, who was Houston's featured back for the past three seasons, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. The duo has helped the Texans average 153 yards rushing a game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Hyde has carried a bigger load than Johnson so far and he is fifth in the league with 173 yards rushing.
Their success is impressive considering that neither player started camp with the team. Johnson came to Houston in a trade with Cleveland on Aug. 9 and Hyde joined the Texans on Aug. 31 in a deal with Kansas City.
PASS RUSHERS ON PARADE
The game will feature three of the top pass rushers in the AFC. Houston's J.J. Watt is still looking for his first sack this season and has never taken down Rivers.
Los Angeles' Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have combined for two sacks, both coming in the opener against Indianapolis.
The Chargers are hoping to get placekicker Michael Badgley back after he has missed two games because of a groin injury. Ty Long has handled both kicking and punting duties, but missed a pair of field-goal attempts last week.
The Texans have brought back punter Bryan Anger after Trevor Daniel struggled.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had just one catch for four yards during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Even with Marquise Brown (ankle) out of the lineup, Hurst continued to be a non-factor in the team's offensive attack. He likely won't have a consistent role moving ahead, especially with Mark Andrews in the mix, but he will be good for an occasional touchdown from time-to-time.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill had 31 yards on five carries in the win over Cincinnati on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson going crazy on the Bengals Defense by rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, Hill continued to play second fiddle to Gus Edwards, who had just three more yards than the former. Nonetheless, outside of dynasty formats, Hill has relatively no fantasy value at the moment, with that likely to continue until either Mark Ingram or Edwards goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards finished with 34 yards on six carries during the win over the Bengals on Sunday. Averaging just over seven touches per game, this type of performance has been the norm for the 24-year-old this season. He should continue to outpace Justice Hill but don't expect much of anything from a fantasy standpoint unless Mark Ingram goes down with an injury.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts pulled in both of his targets against the Bengals on Sunday, finishing with just 23 yards in a game that was highlighted by the play of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 152 yards on 19 carries. While Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, Roberts wasn't able to get anything going. Continue to not expect much from 28-year-old, however, even if Hollywood misses more time in the weeks ahead.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin had two catches (three targets) for 28 yards against the Bengals in Week 6. Though Marquise Brown (ankle) wasn't in the lineup, quarterback Lamar Jackson virtually monopolized the team's offensive attack by rushing for 152 yards on 19 carries. Don't expect much from Boykin moving forward in all formats, even if Hollywood misses some more time.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead had three catches for 18 yards on Sunday. With Lamar Jackson and company running all over the Bengals Defense, Snead was unable to get involved despite the absence of Marquise Brown (ankle), who was ruled out for the week. The 26-year-old continues to be included as the No. 3 receiving option outside of Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, often picking up the duo's leftovers from week-to-week. He still has value in deeper PPR formats, with his stock rising if Hollywood misses more time.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jarius Wright pulled in just one catch for six yards against the Buccaneers in London. With Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel gobbling up most of the targets from week-to-week, Wright has relatively no fantasy value at the moment. If one of those guys gets injured, his stock may rise, but not enough to make a difference from a fantasy standpoint.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway caught two of his four passes for 22 yards in a 32-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. A week after dropping a would-be touchdown in the end zone, Callaway again struggled to hold onto the ball. He dropped two catchable passes, including one that would have gone for a long gain in the first quarter. The second-year receiver was suspended for the first four games of the season, so it is possible that he is still shaking off the rust. Even so, he will have a tough time making an impact in fantasy as long as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are healthy. Callaway has his bye in Week 7 before a tough road matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins pulled in three receptions for 39 yards on Sunday against the Chiefs. With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller getting the majority of looks from quarterback Deshaun Watson throughout the season, Akins continues to be virtually an afterthought as he received fewer targets than fellow tight end Darren Fells, who finished with seven on the day. Akins still has value in deeper formats, but his success is dependent on whether he can find the end zone, while also hinging on the health of Fells moving ahead.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (ankle) is considered week-to-week after suffering a sprained ankle that has been described as 'minor to moderate' in Week 6 versus the New Orleans Saints, according to a source.
Tennessee Titans QBs Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are expected to find out Monday, Oct. 14, who will start in Week 7 versus the Los Angeles Chargers. Head coach Mike Vrabel announced the decision will be made sometime Monday evening.
Fantasy Spin: It's a pretty good indication Tannehill will be named the starter, as most coaches have no problem shooting down any such speculation immediately when they feel strongly about the man holding the job. Mariota was playing turnover-free ball until Week 6, but the Titans have seemingly been trying to hide him for the better part of the season - if not longer. However, it's debatable whether Tannehill will provide much of a spark to the offense, leaving him firmly in QB2 territory.
Having not played since suffering a calf injury in a Week 1 loss to the Ravens, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson returned to action in a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, finishing with five receptions on six targets. Wilson's six targets tied him with Preston Williams for the most among Miami wide receivers, which should be a good sign for his usage going forward. Unfortunately, that ends the good news of his stat line, as Wilson's five catches were good for a total of only 15 yards, with eight of those coming on one play. Until Miami's offense becomes something less than terrible and until Wilson starts using his elite speed to get looks down the field, "Fast" Albert needs to stay parked on the waiver wire. Hey-hey-hey.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn saw just four targets in Sunday's win over the Dolphins, collecting two of them for a total of eight yards. This was the third consecutive game in which Quinn was targeted only four times, and also the third straight contest in which he failed to break 20 yards receiving. On the rare occasions the Redskins offense has functioned well, it's been with Case Keenum at the helm. Assuming the veteran holds onto the starting job for the foreseeable future, he figures to provide his pass-catchers with the best chance at producing. Quinn's usage rate unfortunately suggests he's not going to see many opportunities regardless of who is throwing the ball. He can continue to be ignored in all formats.
Indianapolis Colts S Clayton Geathers (concussion) and LB Darius Leonard (concussion) have been cleared from the league's concussion protocol.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams was a popular sleeper heading into a favorable Week 6 matchup, as the Washington Redskins were bringing in one of the league's worst defenses. However, those bold owners who took a chance on Williams were rewarded with a dud, as he caught just two passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns in a 17-16 Miami loss. While his six targets were tied with Albert Wilson for the most among wide receivers, Williams has received more than seven targets just once this season and has only one touchdown and 232 yards in Miami's five games. Given his lack of production and with Miami's offense a total mess, Williams is just one of many Dolphins who should not be on anyone's fantasy roster.
Free-agent TE Benjamin Watson (Patriots) is expected to re-sign with the New England Patriots after the team released him last week. Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots did not have a roster spot for him at that time, but injuries have altered the picture.
Fantasy Spin: It seems unlikely Watson is going to make much of a fantasy impact upon his (likely) return, but the tight end position is so weak in fantasy at the moment that anything is possible. Most owners can probably afford to sit back and wait to see how this thing plays out, but it's not out of the question Watson becomes a starter for New England in short order and able to contribute three or four catches per game.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton struggled once again in Week 6, as he continues to scratch and scrap for any production that he can carve out of Denver's offense. The 2nd-year Penn State product hauled in both targets thrown his way for a total of 25 yards against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon. Hamilton has yet to have a solid performance this year and there is not much indicating a change in that regard. He takes the field next in a Thursday night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is reportedly making progress but not expected to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: It's getting harder and harder for fantasy owners to hold onto Jackson, who made an early exit in Week 2 and hasn't played since. With that said, he should be able to return to game action within the next week or two given the fact the team seems close to declaring him ready to practice. It might take some time for him to get his conditioning back, but it is clear the offense needs him. He will likely be worth the wait once he does return and should still be considered a high-upside WR3 in fantasy.
Philadelphia Eagles CBs Jalen Mills (hamstring) and Ronald Darby (foot) are expected to resume practicing Wednesday, Oct. 16, and could play Week 7 versus the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker made the last of his three receptions count on Sunday, with an 11-yard touchdown catch with just six seconds remaining in Miami's 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins. Parker has now caught a touchdown in his last two games but was only targeted a total of eight times in those two, after averaging just under seven targets in his previous three. The speedy receiver only received four targets on Sunday, putting him behind five other players, all of whom received at least six looks. Getting less and less attention in an offense that's going nowhere fast, there are few reasons to take a flyer on Parker with Miami facing Buffalo's top-ranked pass defense in Week 7.